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Singing Through the Storm

Elizabeth Cumbest

My outlook on who I am and what God has called me to do changed because of a storm. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I was scared. I sat in the corner of my living room crying, wondering if my family was alive and trying to find hope. I started praying, and I picked up my guitar and sang a song that would be a new beginning for me.

Music and Ministry

Music has always been an important part of my life. When I was a child, my dad sang to me every song in The United Methodist Hymnal. Standing in First United Methodist Church in Lucedale, Mississippi, singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord,” I gave my life to Christ. Now I write and sing my own songs. God speaks to me through music and calls me to reach out to others, especially the homeless.

I have a special place in my heart for people who are homeless, abandoned, and looking for someone to count on. At Alta Woods UMC in Jackson, Mississippi, I became involved with Gravy and Grace, a ministry that offers biscuits and gravy to homeless people who stay for a worship service. I remember the day when Mark, a homeless man, came to the church looking for something to eat; and we invited him to Gravy and Grace. As we walked downstairs to the room where we would worship, Mark saw the piano in the choir room and asked if he could play it. As he started playing, we knew that God was already working in his life; and we invited him to play in the services. An incredible musician, Mark had been playing in bars and anywhere else he could. Now God was using this homeless man to open our hearts to worship.

DSCN0115beach 2Since that day I have wanted to help the homeless even more. I continued to write songs and struggled with what to do with them. When I moved back to the coast, I discovered that the Seashore Mission, a homeless ministry, had been completely washed away in the storm. I remembered serving meals and visiting the people there. I prayed about what I could do to help. Finally, it hit me. I decided that I would record my songs and send the proceeds from my CD to the mission to help rebuild the ministry. I prayed that my efforts to help by recording my music would be for God’s glory, not mine.

“All Things New”

Not knowing how people would respond to my music, I recorded it anyway, feeling deep inside that everything would be OK. And God has blessed my efforts. As I write this article, my CD All Things New has raised $36,000 for Seashore Mission and has helped to bring numerous work teams from around the country to the Gulf Coast to assist with the rebuilding.

Onstage Y07-2 0261Eliz+CJWhen I entered some of my songs in the devozine SoulTunes contest, I never imagined that God would give me another incredible opportunity. My song “Seashore” won first place! Before I knew it, I was on my way to Youth 2007 to sing in front of thousands of young people. As I walked on stage that night, I was nervous; but in that moment, God took over and sang through me. The rest of the week, I connected with many other people my age who are at work all over the world serving God. I am overwhelmed by the ways God can use us if we are willing to do even one small thing. Saying YES to God has changed my life!

God calls us to use our gifts for God’s glory, to tell the good news to people in our homes, schools, jobs, communities, cities, and all over the world. God calls us to be faithful servants in the world; and by being open, we find God leading us to places we never could have imagined.

 

DIG DEEPER

God sometimes uses the storms in life to show us what we never knew about ourselves. How have difficult times changed the soundtrack of your life?

PRAYER: Loving God, lead us through the storms of life that we may always sing your praises. Amen.

Elizabeth Cumbest title page

I’m not giving up,
I’m not letting go.
I’m going to stay here
      and be a sign of hope!
Let it not be of me,
But all of you, O my Lord,
You make all things new!

—From “All Things New”

 

Elizabeth Cumbest is from Hurley, Mississippi. Learn more about her story.

—from devozine (January/February 2008). Copyright © 2007 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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